On the first anniversary of the worst accidental oil spill in world history, international ocean conservation group Oceana presented a game plan that would eliminate the need for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico within the next ten years. Using data from the non-partisan U.S. Energy Information Administration and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, among others, Oceana offered pragmatic recommendations that, if followed, would eliminate the need for drilling by 2020, and alleviate the need to import oil from the Persian Gulf by 2023, a mere 12 years from today. The plan also outlines an approach to eliminating imports altogether by 2030.
“Rather than being held hostage by the status quo, Oceana devised a practical plan to end America’s oil habit. We can make major changes within the next 12 years,” said Oceana senior campaign director Jacqueline Savitz. “Our plan focuses on four sectors: heating, transportation, shipping and power generation, and substitutes clean energy for current uses of oil. With conservative projections of renewable energy generation potential, we show that there are safer ways to meet our nation’s energy needs,” Savitz added.
On the Anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling disaster, Oceana’s plan provides a way to prevent additional, catastrophic oil spills that foul our waters and kill valuable marine life. These solutions can also serve as a catalyst for a clean energy technological revolution, which will stimulate our economy and create jobs.
Cut Oil Use in Shipping
By slowing down by just 10 percent, large marine vessels can cut their fuel use by 23 percent, according to the International Maritime Organization. A variety of other actions to increase efficiencies could be taken as well. Assuming a simple 10 percent slowing and a corresponding savings of 23 percent on fuel, the need for 105,000 barrels of oil per day could be eliminated.
Stop Using Oil for Electricity Generation
While we use relatively little oil to generate electricity, ending the use of oil in electricity generation would alleviate the need for 200,000 barrels of oil per day. This is 11 percent of the amount of oil the U.S. is projected to extract from the Gulf of Mexico in 2020. To replace electricity generated by oil, we would need 11.7 gigawatts of offshore wind power.
Shift Residential and Commercial Heating from Oil to Electricity
Shifting just 25 percent of homes and businesses that still use oil for heat to heat generated by electricity would not only increase their efficiency, it would also alleviate the need for about 228,000 barrels of oil daily. This savings is roughly 13 percent of the amount of oil we are projected to extract from Gulf of Mexico waters in 2020.
Electrify the Transportation Fleet and Substitute Biofuels
Electric vehicles, cellulosic ethanol, and algal biofuels could reduce consumption by 6.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2030. About 41 percent of this reduction would be due to increased adoption of electric vehicles, which could account for 40 percent of the light-duty vehicle fleet by 2030. Another 17 percent of the projected reduction would result from increased production of cellulosic ethanol. The balance of the reduction, roughly 42 percent, could occur as algal biofuel production is brought to market.
These are just some of the Oceana recommendations for reducing our reliance on oil. More specific recommendations can be found in the full Oceana 2020 Vision Plan, which is posted at www.stopthedrill.org.
Recent changes in the Middle East have brought U.S. dependence on foreign oil into sharp focus for business and political leaders. Many U.S. politicians and energy experts suggest that increased domestic production would help break U.S. dependency on oil imports. However, increased production would not have that effect according to economists. Oceana recommends a better alternative that doesn’t endanger our environment or health: eliminating the need for oil imports in the first place.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that oil imports will decrease slightly from current levels to about 9 million barrels of oil per day in 2030, representing roughly 50 percent of the nation’s oil consumption. Of these 9 million barrels of imported oil, about 1.6 million barrels will come from the Persian Gulf. Further advances in the previously described energy sectors would allow us to reduce all oil imports by 80 percent by 2030 and entirely eliminate Persian Gulf imports as early as 2023. Continued reductions beyond 2030 in these same sectors would allow the nation to achieve a crucial goal: the elimination of all oil imports.